After a lot of speculation, Korean automaker Hyundai finally pulled the wraps off of its first mass-produced electric bus this week. It’s called the Elec City. It has a range of 180 miles, thanks to a 256kWh battery pack, according to Hyundai. A report from the Yonhap news agency says the bus can also be fully charged in just over an hour. The company plans to launch the bus in 2018.
While that’s more than double what had been rumored for Hyundai, it’s still a far cry from the massive 660kWh capacity of the Catalyst E2, the newest bus from American manufacturer Proterra. The Catalyst E2 supposedly gets 350 miles of street driving on a single charge, and maybe more with some highway driving mixed in. Plus, Proterra’s new bus will hit the road in 2017.
It’s not clear if Hyundai would ever bring its bus to North America, but if it did, Proterra wouldn’t be the only competition. Chinese manufacturer BYD has sold buses in California. Canadian company GreenPower has a small foothold as well. Tesla CEO Elon Musk even flirted with the idea, though it appears that the project could be on hold while he works on tunneling under Los Angeles. Adoption rates could go up as electric buses get better and cheaper, too. Despite the fact that they’re about twice as expensive as their diesel counterparts in the early going, a recent study from Columbia University estimates that they could save cities money over the long haul.
Hyundai, like many other automakers, has been slowly increasing the number of electric (and hydrogen) vehicles it makes in recent years. Its most visible offering is the Ioniq, a sedan that Hyundai sells in three variants: hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric. The company has also promised that a long-range electric vehicle is coming in 2018.